For the past 2 years, the duration of Donald Trump’s presidency, all mass media has done is pour petrol over the relationship with Russia. Now, the same insane fools are berating Trump for answering their call to escalate with Russia, a move one has to repudiate, as Rand Paul has done. Rand Paul, however, veers into the neoconservationism he so condemns when he advocates the removal of the Saudi Crown Prince.
Here is Republican Senator Rand Paul, a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, talking sense to a great interviewer, CHRIS WALLACE, of FOX NEWS SUNDAY. (Putin first, then Khashoggi and the Kingdom of Saud.)
WALLACE: I want to get, and we’re running out of time, to one final subject. It appears that President Trump is about to pull out, to tell the Russians that we’re going to pull out of the INF medium-range missile treaty, a treaty that Ronald Reagan signed with Mikhail Gorbachev back in 1987.
Here was the president yesterday afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we have honored the agreement but Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement. So, we are going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to fall out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I got about a minute left. The president says he will stay in the treaty only if Russia and China, which was not a signatory to the INF treaty, will abide by its terms. Your reaction to this, sir?
PAUL: I think it’s a big, big mistake to flippantly get out of this historic agreement that Reagan and Gorbachev signed. This was a big part of Reagan’s legacy and we should not get rid of it. It was an important step. We went from 64,000 nuclear-tipped missiles down to 15,000. It has been an historic agreement.
I think what we should do instead of getting out event is I’ve asked the president, and I advised him privately and in public, that he should appoint nuclear negotiators, nuclear arms control negotiators to actually work with the Soviets. We have complaints that they are not in compliance. They also have complaints that some of our missile launchers in Europe are not in compliance.
Let’s have a rational discussion with experts on this and see if we can resolve it.
WALLACE: You sent out a tweet that said you think this is one reason why John Bolton should stay out of this. Why him personally?
PAUL: I think John Bolton is the one advising the president to get out of the INF Treaty and I don’t think he recognizes the important achievement of Reagan and Gorbachev on this. Look, I spent an hour with Gorbachev a couple of months ago and they still regard this, this reduction of nuclear arms and a disaster that would be nuclear war, I think in a very sincere manner, at least from Gorbachev, that reducing the arms was very important and I don’t want to see another nuclear arms race with Russia or with any other country.
I’m all for trying to sign an agreement with China, but that would have to be a brand-new agreement and there’s no reason to end the agreement we have with Russia.
… WALLACE: your reaction to the Saudi account that Khashoggi was killed by accident in a fist fight at the consulate and that the Saudi crown prince had nothing to do with it.
Do you believe the Saudi account?
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Absolutely not. I think it’s insulting to anyone who’s analyzing this with any kind of intelligent background to think that, oh, a fist fight led to a dismemberment with a bone saw. So, no.
But I think we should put this brazen attack, this brazen murder in context with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has basically over the decades been the largest state sponsor of radical Islam and violent jihad. They sponsor thousands of madrassas that teach hatred of Christians and Jews and Hindus around the world. So, this isn’t the first instance. This is just another in the line of long instances of Saudi insults to the civilized world.
WALLACE: I’m going to get to the larger relationship in a moment, but I want to stay with this case at this point. What do you think was the involvement of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The king has absolved them and in fact has put MBS, as he’s known, in charge of the overhaul of Saudi intelligence.
PAUL: I think it stretches credulity to believe the crown prince wasn’t involved in this and I think that’s the way they’re going to write this off. And people in Saudi Arabia ought to be aware when you were told what to do, you go and do it, and then they will execute you and put all the blame on someone else. There’s no way 15 people were sent from Saudi Arabia to Turkey to kill a dissident without the approval of the crown prince. And that’s why I say we have to be stronger than just saying, oh, we are going to sanction a few of these people and pretend like we’re doing something.
I think we really need to discontinue our arms sales to Saudi Arabia and have a long and serious discussion about whether or not they want to be an ally or they want to be an enemy.
WALLACE: Well, you say we got to get tougher. President Trump was asked about the arrest of 18 people involved in the case and the firing of five officials, some of them with close ties to the crown prince. Here’s what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think it’s a good first step, it’s a big step, it’s a lot of people. A lot of people involved and I think it’s a great first step.
REPORTER: Do you consider it a credible explanation?
TRUMP: I do. I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Does President Trump know something that you don’t, Senator, or, frankly, do you think he’s covering for the Saudis?
PAUL: I think the Saudis are an authoritarian government. They are directed from the top down and you don’t have people just going off and doing things on their own. I feel certain that the crown prince was involved and that he directed this and that’s why I think we cannot continue to have relations with him.
So, I think is going to have to be replaced, frankly. But I think that sanctions don’t go far enough. I think we need to look at the arm sale, because this is not just about this journalist being killed, it’s about the war in Yemen where tens of thousands of civilians are being killed. It’s about them spreading hatred of Christians and Jews and Hindus throughout the world. I mean, thousands and thousands madrassas teaching radical violence against the West.
The Saudis have not acted as our friend and they need to change their behavior.
WALLACE: I understand that but I’m asking you directly about the president’s reaction. He says he finds credible an account that you find incredible. Why do you think he’s doing that?
PAUL: Exactly. I don’t know the reasoning or can answer for, you know, the president’s thought process on this. I can only say I think many of us looking at the situation think this couldn’t happen in an authoritarian government without the crown prince being involved.
WALLACE: All right. Let’s talk now about punishment and what to do about it. The president says he’s going to work with Congress to find a way to sanction the Saudis, but he made it clear one of the things he doesn’t want to do. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would prefer that we don’t use as retribution canceling $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Now, last year, long before all of this. You came within four votes of blocking further arms sales to the Saudis. First of all, what do you think of the chances that you can get those four votes and block them this year? And what about the president’s argument that this hundreds of thousands of American jobs?
PAUL: I think if we were to have a vote in the next couple of weeks on whether or not to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, we would win overwhelmingly. And so, I think the powers that be will try to prevent us from having that vote. They have to announce a specific case of arms being sold and my prediction is they’ll avoid doing that as long as possible.
With regard to jobs, I don’t think arms should ever be seen as a jobs program. Our arms, our military arms, the sophistication of our arms are part of our national defense. These aren’t something that are just owned by private companies, they are owned by the country, and I think we should never sell arms to any country in less it’s in national security interest.
I think the war in Yemen actually increases our national risk. It makes us less secure in the Middle East. It makes us more likely to be involved in another war in Yemen.
So, I think we should not be supplying the Saudis with bombs. They’ve been indiscriminately killing civilians. Just in the last month, 50 schoolchildren were killed in the bombing of the school bus. They killed 150 people at a funeral possession.
The Saudis have not been acting in a just fashion. Yemen’s one of the poorest planets on the earth. Millions of people there face starvation, over a million people had cholera and the Saudis continue to block their ports. So, no, I don’t think that there’s a national security reason for us to be involved in the war in Yemen and that’s where our arms are going.
So, I would cut off arms sales. It’s the only thing the Saudis will listen to.
WALLACE: Well, an interesting figure. Russian President Putin talked about this and he said that he believes that the U.S. has a double standard. He noted that after the alleged poisoning of that Russian spy in Britain that the U.S. expelled 60 Russian diplomats and imposed sanctions and he looks at the lack of action so far and says that’s a double standard.
One, does Putin have a point? And beyond blocking arms sales, you say that you don’t think the White House is even going to offer them at this point, what else should the U.S. do if anything to punish the Saudis?
PAUL: Well, I think there is a double standard and I think the Saudis need to be treated as who they are in the context of who they are. I don’t think they are a friendly ally. They have been spreading hatred of our country for a decade after decade.
With regard to whether we sanction them or whether we have arms sales, I think the arms sales actually will go on. I think they will avoid announcing the arms sales to try to prevent us from blocking them. So, I’m not saying that the Trump administration will stop arms sales. I think they will continue the arms sales and I think this is a danger that Congress, many in Congress will act tough on this and they will pretend to do something, which is sanctions.
But I’m not calling for sanctions really against Saudi Arabia in general, I don’t think we should quit trading with Saudi Arabia. I think we should specifically quit aiding and abetting them in an aggressive war in Yemen.
WALLACE: You have been — as we pointed out, you have been a real skeptic of our relationship with Saudi Arabia for many years and you’ve certainly given evidence of that today.
But here’s a counterargument from President Trump. He says that we depend on Saudi Arabia for cheap oil or cheaper oil. He says we depend on Saudi Arabia as a potential counterweight to Iran and its ambitions in the Middle East and that we can — we hope that Saudi Arabia will help us broker a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Do you think he’s wrong on all those fronts?
PAUL: I think this is thousand-year-old war in the Middle East between Sunni and Shia, and Saudi Arabia is pitted us against Iran. The biggest thing that destabilize the Middle East and I think the president agrees with me on this was the Iraq war.
There was much more of a balance in the Middle East at that time, but if you look at military spending right now, the Saudis and the gulf sheikhdom that are their allies spend eight times more than Iran. And so, there is an arms race, but when we supply arms to Saudi Arabia, Iran responds.
So when we complain about the Iranians having ballistic missiles that they are developing, they are doing that in response to the arming of the Saudis. It’s a bilateral arms race that goes on and on. And so, I wouldn’t continue it, I don’t think we need the Saudis.
The Saudis need us much more than we need them. We have incredible leverage. Their air force is entirely American planes. They can’t last a couple of months without parts and mechanics to help them run their air force. We train their pilots.
They are completely dependent on us. We need to tell them to behave, and if they’re not going to behave, and that includes cutting off the funding to all these schools that teach hatred of Christians, Jews and Hindus.
THE Tipping Point. Liberals just can’t get a break:
— Ilana Mercer (@IlanaMercer) October 30, 2018